On the Ground in Chicago: Zoning Assistance for Neighborhoods - Metropolitan Planning Council

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On the Ground in Chicago: Zoning Assistance for Neighborhoods

An article from the Winter 2004 issue of Regional Connection

As the City of Chicago nears the conclusion of the first phase of its historic three-year effort to rewrite its 1957 zoning code, MPC is prodding it to address the needs of its diverse neighborhoods.

To help communities understand and prepare for applying the new ordinance in their words and give them a voice in how their neighborhoods develop, MPC designed a Zoning Change Strategy. It allows residents to identify assets and challenges in their neighborhoods in advance of the official remapping process. MPC has targeted five communities for technical assistance in 2003 and 2004: Rogers Park, West Town, Logan Square, Lawndale, and South Chicago. The Alderman and a local community organization recruits volunteers, who learn about basic zoning concepts and then hit the streets, making of record of what needs to change.

MPC analyzes the data collected by residents and makes recommendations on new zoning categories that would address the assets-or challenges identified. Each community then receives a master map and report.

West Town and Rogers Park are mid-way through their Zoning Change Strategy exercises. Norma Polanco, executive director of the Humboldt Park Economic Development Corporation, said West Town participants found the process both empowering and educational. “Our residents learned a lot about their community, in addition to gaining an understanding of the impacts of zoning. The process helped people realize that they could take a proactive role in zoning reform.”

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For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

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